Issue 44

Product Reviews

Active Target. Where does it apply to your facet of fishing?

The new Active Target transducer has been the talk of the sonar world. I’ve had the privilege of knowing about this live sonar for some time, and since the day we were introduced to it my fishing brain has been asking way too many questions. Mainly, how it could apply to all the different facets of fishing. Each type of angling has its own different challenges. 

After having spent some time with the product and hosting a few of our dealers during a demo day, most of my questions have been answered and I have been left totally blown away. 

If you don’t know what active target is about, do a quick video search to catch up before reading on. 
But to sum it up, its live sonar. Almost like a torch beam that can be manipulated at different angles to give you a video type of reading, enabling you to see what is happening in your beam, BUT LIVE. You have three different views that are fairly self explanatory. Forward: looking ahead of the vessel. Down: looking below the vessel. Scout: aerial type of view of the area the beam is directed at. There are a few different mounting options.

Being able to see ahead of you and see how the fish react to your bait, to better understand when and where to correctly present your bait. It’s an absolute game changer.

For the artlure anglers that enjoy targeting big Carp in the shallows with curly tails on light spinning tackle… this transducer is probably going to be your best friend. I’ve had the privilege of watching Rudolf Venter (Fish on Africa) and Arno Morton (Safari Fishing) target Carp on Roodekoppies where they rely on finding a feeding fish. By using different methods – like tracking bubbles as the fish feeds on the bottom – they predict its feeding lane. When the timing is perfect, they will present the curly tail in the feeding lane. The Carp will pick up on the small subtle vibrations caused by the tail and hackle, and suck the lure in. A very hard technique which is absolutely amazing to watch. I enjoy targeting Carp and Barbel on fly in the shallows, but traditionally I’ve always been on foot.  

80% of Carp are bottom feeding fish and they’re generally found in stained waters where they suck up food sources off the bottom, while at the same time creating the dirty water. Other factors like high runoff from agriculture and big rains are major contributors to poor visibility. 

Hypothetically speaking. Rudolf and Arno have a really hectic task of finding this fish. They have to stick to the really shallow water where the fish might reveal itself via some kind of visual signal and then the tracking game can begin. A lot rides on this fish giving itself away. How many fish have swum past you, and you didn’t know? After seeing what I have seen with live sonar, the answer is: too many! And the solution for that is: ACTIVE TARGET. 

Switch to scout mode and let the aerial search begin. It is absolutely impossible for a Carp (especially the size of the ones they target) to swim past or come within casting distance, without you knowing about it. Best if all- it’s in deep water too. So, they have eliminated the physical visual search and switched it to the screen visual search. Checking between what they see on screen and on water. They watch this fish and its behavior on the screen, and with using range grids they have no problem lining up the cast. They see the bubbles they know and are used to. They make the cast far ahead of the fish, and by now they can see the curly tail on the screen. They position curly tail in the feeding lane and BOOM – fish on. 

This fish has been “sight fished” way before it would have otherwise been possible, and this completely eliminates the risk of spooking the fish. Ok… so it’s a hypothetical situation, but still and absolute gamechanger for this type of angling.

The same situation goes for the big Catfish guys that call Barbel in the shallow water of Bloemhof and the Vaal. Now you can see from above and at range.

And then I move on to the Largemouth Yellowfish anglers. A Largemouth Yellowfish is a structure orientated predator, and very territorial. They are mainly caught on fly and crankbait. An absolutely opportunistic feeder and a master of ambush, this fish relies on some form of structure to ambush its prey.

Active Target is the perfect tool for finding them. Largemouth anglers spend 99.9% of their day casting at visual structure in hope that their presentation will be in the correct spot, have the correct drop, and hope there is a fish that takes it. It’s a game of those who cast the most and spend enough time on the water will get a fish. It can sometimes be hard when ‘one fish a day’ is considered a good day. 

But what if you can “shine some light” on the situation. You can literally shine the Active Target on the area you want to fish. You can first know if there is even a fish there, and you can find the exact location of the fish. You can then make the correct cast, at the correct angle, and ensure that the presentation is spot on (they are quite fussy and like eating on the drop). If the fish didn’t eat on the drop, it might be following the presentation (traditionally you wouldn’t have known this), and now you can make a decision to impart more action or change it up. Did it lose interest and go back to its initial spot? Consider changing your pattern as it will remember it, and didn’t quite like it the first time. There’s no point in casting the exact same cast a second time. Make the second cast and it commits. 

In reality you would have made a single cast and moved on, maybe a second cast with the same bait as it looks nice. All the while missing a fish. This demonstrates a very practical and very real scenario where Active Target changes everything. 

The light tackle boat guys are fast catching up with the benefits of live sonar. Some of the guys have enjoyed using LiveSight and will now be onto the Active Target. They are allowed a certain number of spots that they can turn into feeding areas to attract fish. eg. six spots. These spots can be anywhere on a dam, and in different locations. Once they have made their feeding spot, they will check the spots for activity and then target that spot. In the past they would just fish and hope. Now they are shining a beam (an Active Target beam) on the feeding areas and, if there’s no activity, they move on to the next area. If there is activity – well they start fishing of course. Game changer! 

Then we have the saltwater anglers. The guys who watch reefs and wrecks. Imagine watching your vertical jigging LIVE using Active Target on down view?! Finding bait – live bait – will be so much easier with live sonar. And targeting Kob, Grunter and Leerie in the Eastern Cape estuaries will be amazing with Active Target. 

The possibilities are endless. And this tool has exponentially increased awareness of what’s going on around you. Increasing your understanding of how fish behave and react to your lure. 

Here’s a prime and very real example: On our dealer demo day at Aqua Paradiso (a venue of big Bass, big Carp and lots of big trees) , I was showing Divan Coetzee (fishing pro shop) and Brian Gibbs ( the Active Target in scout mode. We had already been on the water for about 30 mins, we were looking at the trees and they were both casting at targeted fish, trying to get a bite. This particular area has plenty of Carp moving in and out the trees branches, and the bass are there too. But we can actually see the Bass, and there’s this massive fish, sitting static, which we simply assumed to be one of the big Carp. So Divan makes a cast, not to target that specific fish but into the general area, and we all dismiss it as a Carp while we watch the lure on the screen. Suddenly we watch that “Carp” jet off and come for Divans lure, revealing itself. It turned at the last minute – giving us a perfect visual on the fish. It was a monster size Bass, easy 3kg±. That was a very special moment, and we got to watch it unfold live on the Lowrance screen. What it showed us was how exciting it can be to fish when you can actually watch the fish react, and also how much we are missing out when we don’t shine that light on the situation.  

John Minnie and Charl Engelbrecht (from World of Fishing) were also completing some on water demonstrations when they spotted a fish react to their lure… check out this video:

I really hope this article has answered some questions you might have, or perhaps made you start wondering how you can apply live sonar to your targeted species. We keep saying this, but it’s only because it’s so true – Active Target is a total game changer!!!

For more information on Active Target, contact your local Lowrance dealer. You are also always welcome to contact Lowrance SA directly for more tips and tricks on how to get the most out of your Lowrance set up.

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